365 Induced Modified Atmosphere Maintains Quality of Packaged Fresh-cut Honeydew Cubes

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  • 1 USDA/ARS, Bldg. 002, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350

A study was made to determine if induction of modified atmosphere at the time of packaging would be of a benefit to the quality of fresh-cut honeydew cubes because the desired gas levels are not attained immediately or at all during the short holding period in modified-atmosphere packages. Fresh-cut honeydew cubes (2-cm cube) were placed in a plastic container underlaid with a water absorbent packet and the container was sealed with a film. The film is coextruded polystyrene and polyethylene (Cryovac), which had oxygen transmission rates of 1448 and 1903ml/m2 per day per atm at 5 °C and 10 °C, respectively. The sealed packages were given one of the following three treatments: 1) the packages were allowed to form their own natural modified atmosphere (nMAP), 2) the internal atmosphere of the packages was flushed with a gas mixture of 5% O2 + 5% CO2 (iMAP), 3) the film was perforated with a needle to have ten 1.5-mm holes (PFP). The packages were stored at 5 °C, 2 days at 5 °C, and transferred to 10 °C or at 10 °C for 2, 4, 7, 9, or 11 days. Quality attributes and microbial population were analyzed after each holding period. The average gas mixture equilibrated to 7% O2 and 9.5% CO2 in nMAP, was unchanged from the induced atmosphere in iMAP, and was close to the ambient condition (air) in PFP. Honeydew cubes were marketable on days 11, 4, and 4 when held in nMAP; on days 11, 4, and 7 when held in iMAP; and unsalable on days 9, 4, and 7 when held in PFP at 5 °C, 10 °C or transferred to 10 °C, respectively. Development of water-soaked lesions and sour odor were the main factor affecting marketability of the cubes. The decreasing pH, chroma and `L' values and increasing hue angle, mesophilic aerobic microrganism, and yeast population was retarded in both of nMAP and iMAP.

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